I like to look for the surprises in the spiritual life. Many people I have spoken with have a sense that we approach God to ask for or even beg for graces, and to some degree, I think this is a good and healthy stance in the spiritual life. But being the spiritual daughter of St. Paul—who wasn’t exactly known for his timid mincing of words—reminds me to be surprised by the Gospel. St. Paul says radical things like, “when I am weak [in Christ] I am strong” and “I glory in the cross of Christ.” So, who is the one who is begging and asking?
Really when we stop in a liturgical season such as this time of powerful graces, I think we could make a solid case for the reality that some of the Saints have articulated. They see God as the one who is outside the doors of our hearts asking and begging.
This is part of the beauty of our faith which is more often “both and” rather than “either or.” It is both me asking and begging Almighty God to give me, my loved ones, my Sisters, the people we serve, every grace from heaven, AND it is also God asking and begging me to let him into my heart, to pray to him and let him transform me, and to enter my life so that he can affect graces in the world.
Some Sister-friends and I went to Holy Mass at a nearby college recently and the priest was drawing our attention to the fact that heaven and earth mix together during this time of Lent. We see it in the story of our sinfulness and blind selfishness mingled with the story of God Incarnate dwelling among us as our Savior. There is both the victory of redemption and the slow work of redeeming grace in our hearts, minds, souls, family, communities, and world.
What can we do about the fragmentation, horrendous poverty and violence we hear of in the news every day? What can we do about the fragmentation and the personal and communal poverty we experience in our homes and workplaces and our own hearts? Allow the One who makes himself a beggar in and give him space to be Lord.
Sr. Maria Kim-Ngân Bùi is a Daughter of St. Paul, women religious dedicated to evangelization in and through the media. She has a degree from Boston College and the Augustine Institute. She has offered workshops, presentations, and retreats around the country. She currently serves as the head of marketing and sales at Pauline and one of the guides of Spiritual Accompaniment—the gemstone of the My Sisters online faith community.